Proposal replenishes diverted heating aid, Sen. Collins says
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A Senate Appropriations Committee proposal for funding to fight the new coronavirus replenishes $37 million that the Trump administration diverted from heating assistance funds, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Wednesday.
Collins, a committee member, tweeted that she worked with Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island to protect the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, “which is so important to our seniors and low-income families in Maine.”
U.S. Health and Human Services announced last week the final release of $381 million in heating aid. But it held back 1%, or $37 million, that the Trump administration wanted to divert for the nation’s response to the COVID-19 virus.
Maine’s entire delegation pressed for restoration of the heating assistance funding.
“We cannot solve one public health crisis by creating another,” U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said of the diverted funding. She said the proposal “backfills the $37 million stolen from LIHEAP by the Trump administration.”
The diverted money would have resulted in the elimination of assistance for about 75,000 low-income families this year, said Mark Wolfe, of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association in Washington.